As the world continues to become more technologically advanced, seniors have been trying to keep up with these changes. By keeping up, seniors and baby boomers have benefited from technology and its many advantages. Thus, they are living better lives. Seniors main interaction with technology has come from using their tablets for everyday purposes and gaming.
“Playing games helps keep my mind sharp. For years, I did crossword puzzles in our local newspaper once a week. Now, thanks to technology, I can access crosswords any time!”
-Joe, My Medical Partners Member from New Jersey
While tablet gaming is fun, there are other forms of video games out there that seniors can enjoy by themselves, mainly console and PC gaming. Like tablet gaming, people around the baby boomer age can also gain a lot from engaging in these types of video games like better mental health and memory improvement. While some might feel uneasy going beyond the tablet, there are some games that are very welcoming to those in the senior community.
Minecraft is a sandbox video game that was created by Markus “Notch” Persson”, which was then fully developed and published by the company Mojang. The game promotes creativity by letting players build anything they want with the 3D textured cubes in the world. Additionally, the game includes exploration, resource gathering & crafting, combat, and other activities.
With a little guidance, Minecraft can appeal to many baby boomers thanks to the many opportunities it offers. From the start, you are set in a calm and relaxing place in a randomly generated world, where there is no pressure on what to build. People can build anything, from a small wooden cabin with a potato garden to a sky-high castle. In all, the game is like digital Legos. And like Legos, players can pick it up at any time they want, which is beneficial for seniors and their schedule. Because of its creativity, it appeals to many generations, which makes it a great game for seniors to bond with the younger generation.
“Kids my age love Minecraft. I was super surprised when I showed it to my Grandpa and he asked to play with me! Now we can bond over a game we both love.”
-Kasey in New Mexico, granddaughter of MMP Member
World of Warcraft (PC)
World of Warcraft (also known as WOW), is a massively multiplayer online roleplaying computer game that lets players play in a fantasy world and interact with other online. Many of these players are from different walks of life, surprisingly a lot of Warcraft players are seniors. While in the game, you and many others go out on adventures, exploring dungeons, fighting off evil monsters that threaten the land, be a hero to the locals, and much more.
Known for having an older gaming audience (since the Warcraft franchise has existed for more than 20 years), WOW appeals to seniors in many ways. One of its biggest appeals is its online community. While the WOW community has its share of young players, the game has been going on for so long that most of its community ranges people in their late 30s to those in their senior years (65+ and above). The game also is easy to pick up, as long as you have an active subscription, which is easy to renew.
In addition, World of Warcraft has been proven to help boost seniors’ cognitive ability. Researchers from North Carolina State University tested 39 seniors, 20 who would play WOW while 19 remained as a control group. Results showed that an overall greater improvement in spatial ability and memory was seen in the WOW players than those who didn’t play the game. So, if baby boomers want to have fun and improve their memory, they can simply log into Warcraft.
Brain Age (Nintendo 3DS)
Brain Age is a series of puzzle and learning games that is developed and published by Nintendo. The series are based on the works of Ryuta Kawashima, a professor of neurology at Tohoku University in Chiba, Japan. The games contain mini-games that share the common elements of mathematics, memory management and other brain exercises.
Brain Age appeals to seniors mainly because of its creator’s intentions, promoting a healthy brain by keeping it active with simple and complex activities. His works had such an impact that gerontology experts like Professor Elizabeth Zelinkski of University of South California praised its effectiveness and recommended the game to seniors because of its mental stimulation.
For Seniors that are Fixated on Tablet Gaming
While playing on a console or a PC sounds like a great idea and way to expand a senior’s living, some others might rather stay within their comfort zone of tablet gaming. While there are comforts like Sudoku and Tetris clones, there are more games out there that seniors can gain a lot from.
Words with Friends (Android and Apple devices)
Words with friends is an online multiplayer word game that works like real life Scrabble. Players take turns building words on an online game board, trying to get the most points with the limited number of available letters.
This game has a lot of appeal to seniors as it promotes a sense of sociability with people you know online or with random players online. Since the game allows for players to play up to 30 simultaneous sessions, seniors will always have someone to play with. Which is good as having a social upkeep is vital in a senior’s life. The game also promotes brain activity as players need to keep their minds sharp with vocabulary usage, using words they thought they have forgotten to use.
“Word puzzle games have always been a big deal in my extended family. It’s tough for us to get together in the same location regularly, so I was very excited to download this game. I can now whoop their butts playing Words With Friends anytime!”
-Ralph in Florida, MMP member
Pokemon Go (Android and Apple devices)
Developed by Niantic and published by Nintendo, Pokemon Go is a free to play mobile game that uses augmented reality. It uses a mobile device’s GPS so that players can locate, capture, battle, and train creatures from Pokemon. To play the game, players must travel in the real world and find these creatures.
The hit mobile phenomenon has had an impact on various generations from the younger generation (Millennials) to older generations (like baby boomers). While the game doesn’t directly promote it, Pokemon Go’s functions have indirectly promoted both exercising and socializing in seniors. During its peak, tons of kids, adults, and seniors were going out to parks, trails, and other public areas to capture Pokemon. While they were walking around, people young and old were interacting with others, trading tips with others on how to find the best Pokemon.
Facetime (Apple devices)
Stimart Scarlett Memory Games is the first ever memory exercise program that was specifically designed for seniors. The game has cultural and recreational games that are suited for seniors who want to train their memory with adapted exercises. The game has no timer, thus letting players go at their own pace.
Facetime (Apple devices)
While not a game, it does allow people to talk to others while being able to see them. Because of this application, seniors can interact with their friends and family in far off places, even to play small games with them.
“I am not a technology person, even though I’m only in my mid 60s, and I never thought I’d be using a tablet to talk to my grandkids. They got me an iPad this past Christmas and now I love seeing my grandkid while I speak to them! It makes it feel like we’re in the same state!”
-Gail in California, MMP member
Seniors Can Benefit from Video Games
There are many games out there that appeal to seniors, beyond the ones mentioned in this article. They aren’t just for fun but also for promoting a better life for seniors. Games not only seniors’ physical and mental health but also their social life by meeting new friends and keeping in touch with friends and family.